Two stories in the news. though unrelated, invite comparison: a woman has accused the President of sexual assault, bringing the total to a reported 20, and a version of "Women of Algiers" by 19th-century painter Eugene Delacroix has been discovered.

Ideal form

Delacroix is best known for picturing half-dressed women. In his book "A Study of Ideal Form," art historian Kenneth Clark characterized the painter's subjects as "pale, delicate and defenseless, awaiting the onslaught of brutality." His best-known canvas.

"The Death of Sardanapalus" makes the point and leads, parenthetically, to the Trump news. See if you don't recognize him in the Sardanapalus painting.

Art and patrimony

Sardanapalus was the last king of the Assyrian Empire around the 25th-century B.C. But instead of showing him on a throne, Delacroix put him on a bed with vivid reds, fiery brushwork and, in utter confusion, nearly-bare women lying with him dead or dying.

Instead of a picture of kingship, you get one of lust. Chaos marks the scene. And the king doesn't seem to mind. He reclines bejeweled in gold. More objects of gold are scattered among the carnage. As art historian Elisabeth Fraser put it in her book "Delacroix, Art and Patrimony in Post-Revolutionary France," the king is shown willing to destroy all of his possessions, including people in a funerary pyre of gore and excess.

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Donald Trump

Devil's advocate

Delacroix's rendering of stripped and writhing bodies bring to mind those in Frederick Hart's marble sculpture "El Nihlo" that describes undraped figures emerging sensuously from a void. You may remember that the sculpture was referenced in the 1997 horror film "A Devil's Advocate," and made to look animated on the apartment wall of Satan, played by Al Pacino. Hart made the news with his fury that his work - part of the facade of the Episcopal National Cathedral in W Washington, D.C. - was used as a symbol of decadence.

Satanic story

But here's the thing. While Sardanapalus is supposed to be dying, he looks more like he's enjoying a feverish dream. And that's where Trump comes in. He's like king Sardanapalus - partial to Bedlam, abusing women and all things golden. The New York Daily News reports how E. Jean Carroll, once a popular talk-show host on NBC in the '90s and a columnist for Elle magazine, was allegedly raped by Trump in Bergdorf Goodman's department store dressing room.

He says she's lying. That's what he always says about women who accuse him. But his cavalier way with women, recorded in his own words on the Access Hollywood tape, lends credence to women's charges.

At this point, don't you wonder where men like Delacroix and the Donald would be if Western society had evolved as matriarchal?

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